Dr. Scott Atlas, the White House’s controversial coronavirus adviser, took aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday, labeling the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases a “political animal” while also dismissing the idea of further COVID-19 lockdowns in the U.S.
Atlas, who was appointed by Trump in August, made the remarks during an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show. He lambasted the widely respected Fauci for saying last month that the country “could not be positioned more poorly” heading into the winter and then more recently lauding Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine and stating that doses of it may be available for high-priority recipients as early as December.
“Maybe he’s cheered up because of the election,” Atlas said. “There’s all kind of prognostications that were made, all negative, all to undermine what the reality of the timelines were, all to undermine the president ... and once you do that sort of thing and make yourself a political animal, basically you lose your credibility,” he continued.
Ingraham agreed with Atlas’ assessment, calling Fauci a “political pundit for Joe Biden.”
Atlas also had harsh words for Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and a newly minted member of the president-elect’s task force. Osterholm has warned of “COVID hell” in the coming winter, pointed to rising pressures on the health care system, and spoken in favor of further lockdowns.
Atlas had a different take: “The lockdowns kill people, the lockdowns destroy families, the lockdowns increase the risks of suicide and drug overdose, missed cancer diagnosis, missed medical care, all those things happen with the lockdown. But then when you open up, the virus comes back, and we see this all over Europe, we see this in plenty of the states here that have had various levels of lockdown.”
He claimed that anybody who supports the use of lockdowns “just either doesn’t know the science, doesn’t understand the science or is lying. It’s one of those three.”
Atlas seemed to walk back those remarks slightly one day later, tweeting that saving lives is paramount and “there will no longer be personal criticisms in the media, regardless of differences in policy solutions or differing interpretations of data.”
Unlike Fauci and Osterholm, Atlas is a neuroradiologist who does not have formal training in treating infectious diseases. He has garnered criticism for promoting COVID-19 herd immunity ― the idea that the coronavirus will become manageable once many more individuals contract it and develop antibodies ― as a solution to the pandemic. This plan has been slammed by the American Public Health Association, the World Health Organization and Fauci, who has repeatedly argued that letting COVID-19 run rampant would result in far too many deaths.
Watch Atlas’ appearance on Fox News below.